Sunday, December 6, 2009

Mother Mangalam - serving love to little children

To the thousands of Malaysian children, past and present, who are from broken homes, abandoned or victims of tragic circumstances, Mother Mangalam is MOTHER.

My husband, and I were thrilled that Mother Mangalam could meet us in person upon appointment. All of 84 years, she looked rather hale and greeted us warmly with her sweet smile. She led us in assured steps to her office and we chatted. We know and have heard of her wonderful work at the Pure Life Society, of which she is the life and soul for all 48 years

From a very young age, Mangalam was filled with a desire to live a life of service, to live a life for others. She took the road less travelled and the Pure Life Society is testimony of her great faith.

Of the thousands who have passed the annals of Pure Life Society, some have grown to be successful people in their own right. Among them : Abu Bakar Ahmad, Assoc Prof at University Malaya, Nantha Kumaran a successful businessman in the fertiliser business, the late Panchavarnam, a successful restauranteur in Australia and Wong Chee Keong, a microbiologist .

Her eyes have seen and her ears have heard countless sad stories in her work with the children whose lives are in tatters. With her firm commitment, she recognises the herculean task at hand and she guides them to succeed.

Mother Mangalam continues to dedicate her work with children. Looking after 65 children , ranging from 5 -18 years, boys and girls, has been and still is a constant challenge as these kids come from broken homes where the bosom of love and security are missing. Mother Mangalam stressed that in this globalising world, kids need even a firmer but kind hands and hearts to guide them to reach adulthood so as not to be led astray.

(photo credits: Sister to Mother and the children at play : Mangalam /A Life of Service)

Karate class in session. Other activities available are : yoga, gymnastics, football, dancing, computer literacy, sewing and handicraft , singing.

'It all boils down to education.' She dwelt and emphasized that a good, strong family unit, good values inculcated when young are so vital. That children from broken homes do not have good role models to follow. And that when the time is ripe for them to marry, they must know that marriage is sacred and to fulfil the vows taken. It's like the yin and yang of a good , balanced life which she wishes that people adhere to. At the Pure Life Society, the teachers are their friends for life to guide them through the years to adulthood.

When asked if parents visit their kids, she says the Pure Life Society insists. In this respect, the mothers do their best but the fathers somehow disappoint.

Mother Mangalam confided she loves to write poems. At a sprightly age of 84, she wakes up before 5 am to pen her thoughts. But time does not allow her to indulge in writing with so many pressing matters of running a home.

(photo credits: Among children and Ode to Serve : Mangalam/A Life of Service)

She is grateful that organisations and individuals believe in her efforts and support in many ways besides hard cash. The Finnish Government has installed the first part of the water recycling project to cut down on wastage of a natural resource like water.

I was rather passive during the meeting as I was developing a sore throat . Mother Mangalam recognised it. Straightaway, she picked up her phone and asked ever so politely for a decoction which she said will keep the sore throat at bay! Minutes later, her staff brought the tea for Ravi and the herbal drink for me in 2 stainless steel cups. Later into the conversation, she asked if it was alright. ' It's loosening', I replied. The grip at the vocals chords was letting up. Such caring all round!

For Ravi, it was some recollection of little bits of events when he was 10 years old. Mother Mangalam was happy to meet a relative ( his father, the late Dr.T. Markandu and Swami Satyananda were first cousins) of the founder of the Pure Life Society, Rev.Swami Satyananda.

In July, 2009, the Pure Life Society celebrated the 100th centenary birthday of the Founder-President, Rev. Swami Satyananda.

Rev.Swami Satyananda passed away in 1961. To this day, Mother Mangalam has held the fort so ably under her firm but gentle leadership.

To be MOTHER to all races is rare but Mother Mangalam has achieved her dream of serving humankind. Her dedication to a life of service is inspirational and the footprints she leaves behind will surely be imprinted forever, not to be lost in the sands of time.

Information - The Pure Life Society
1.It started as a paper organisation in 1949 with the aim of promoting inter- racial, inter- religious understanding .
2. The Founder -President, Swami Satyananda, who during 1945 - 1951 was involved in relief work among the poor, displaced children and orphans in Singapore and Malaya, assisted by Mother ( then Sister) Mangalam.
3. In 1950, the Society felt the need to establish a Home for orphans and underpriviledged children as a result of WW2 which left in its wake, displaced families.
4. The first few barrack- like buildings were put up in 1952 by the Pure Life Society.
5. The Home is non- sectarian and non -communal, spiritual, cultural, educational and humanitarian in character. It comprises Indian, Chinese and Malay kids. .
6.. Following Rev. Swami Satyananda's untimely demise, Mother Mangalam (then Sister) was appointed President in 1961.
7. The activities carried under the auspices of the Society are two-pronged: 1) INSaF - the promotion of Inter-faith Spiritual fellowship ( INSaF) by way of forums, seminars and service 2)Welfare - Home for children who are orphans, abandoned, neglected, abused from broken families and from single parents.

Time to say 'goodbye' One of the children's tribute to her: ' A mother is God's gift to us/ Sent from up above/ She dries our tears/ Calms our fears and wraps us in love.

I brought home two books : Mother Mangalam /A Life of Service ( Pictorial Biography) and The Pure Life Society/ A Spiritual Sanctuary. Do avail yourselves of these books and you will surely have a good read. How the true spirit of love , courage , determination and faith conquers all to invest in building young lives at the Pure Life Society.

The library corner for the young ones

The hour passed so quickly and we left Mother Mangalam inspired by her selfless service of a lifetime. In her own words,' pray and make living an art' and achieve this 'by the faint glimmer of light - the Divine Light shining from within'.

The Pure Life Society Home for Orphans and Underpriviledged Children

Batu 6, Jalan Puchong, 58200 Kuala Lumpur
tel: +6 03 7785 1087


  1. she's so kind

    A smile from SJ =)

  2. Thank you for sharing the MOTHER Mangalam story.
    Our world needs more and more MOTHERS. Too many children are alone or lonely!
    Children can survive without a zillion toys but they can't survive without an adult who CARES, LISTENS, RESPECTS.

    Have a peaceful Sunday!

  3. Thank you for sharing the Mother Mangalam story who cares about children.

  4. A truly great lady full of compassion. Thanks

  5. Thanks for sharing such a touching story :-)
    Have a nice evening !!!!

  6. Thanks for sharing!
    A true 1Malaysia spirit, existed since 1949!

  7. Mother Mangalam is an amazing lady, Keats! Always so gracious and humble and giving. My friend left legal practice to work with Pure Life Society for over a year. It was a humbling experience for her. The children there are all so happy and so full of love that it can be hard to see that many of them have experienced such trauma and adversity in their young lives. They are all so full of joy and laughter now, thanks to Mother Mangalam whose love helped them grow, learn and cope.

  8. I always learn so much from what you share on your blog. Thanks for all you teach me. This woman is an inspiration!

  9. What an inspiring story, Keats! Thank you for sharing this with us.

  10. This is such an uplifting story. She has such a generous spirit.

  11. Hi
    wenn, yes, a good cause indeed

    SJ,thanks for poppping in.

    BLOGitse, yes, the zillion toys do not make a happy child! Kind hearts do:)

    Wan Hashim, Mother Mangalam is our Mother Theresa. Kindest of hearts:)))

    Bananaz,Mother Mangalam deserves our accolades.

    Anya,thanks for your kind comments.

    lupie, yes, a true 1 MALAYSIA SPIRIT!

    ~Covert_operations'78~, i'm glad you know of someone close to you who worked with the Pure Life Soc. and found it humbling. So much to draw inspiration from:)))

  12. Hi
    Rosey Pollen, Mother mangalam deserves more than this mention here. I'm glad she's still doing what she knows best.

    Chatteringming, the true spirit of giving of oneself is evident.

    Anne Lyken garner, i'm glad I'm able to share this story with everyone.

  13. Always a wonderful story to read and they are uplifting and inspiring.

  14. Hi
    Lucy, truly Mother Mangalam inspires and she is such an exempary figure.

  15. Mother Mangalam is such a gracious, compassionate lady, she reminds me of the late Mother Theresa. We need more people like her. Malaysians are proud of her. I have voted 10 for you, Sunshine Girl.

    My sincere apologies for the late comments. Blogging is really eating up my time. You always makes my day better. Cheers!

  16. Hi Autumn Belle, Mother Mangalam does remind us of the wonderful woman, Mother Theresa,bringing love to everyone she touches. Do not worry about being late. I'm thankful you're visiting and voting, my friend.

  17. i was brought up in the pure life society..thanx for writing about mother mangalam...its nice to read and see people do really care...sweet

  18. hi there, i was also brought up in the pure life society under mother. i can tell u all about tis lady who is always young in my heart. i really have no words to describe her because she really mean alot to me...without her i woun't be standing where i am now...

  19. i want also like mother


Great to have you popping in!